Balaam’s Donkey Speaks
21 Balaam got up the next morning and put a saddle on his donkey. Then he went with the Moabite leaders. 22 But God became angry because Balaam went, so the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord stood in the road to ·stop [challenge] Balaam. Balaam was riding his donkey, and he had two servants with him. 23 When the donkey saw the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, the donkey left the road and went into the field. Balaam ·hit [struck] the donkey to force her back on the road.
24 Later, the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord stood on a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 Again the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and she walked close to one wall, ·crushing [squeezing; scraping] Balaam’s foot against it. So he ·hit [struck] her again.
26 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord went ahead again and stood at a narrow place, too narrow to turn left or right. 27 When the donkey saw the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. This made him so angry that he ·hit [struck] her with his stick. 28 Then the Lord made the donkey talk, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to make you ·hit [strike] me three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made me look foolish! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!”
30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “·I am [L Am I not…?] your very own donkey, which you have ridden for years. Have I ever done this to you before?”
“No,” Balaam said.
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam and let Balaam see the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, who was standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand. Then Balaam bowed facedown on the ground.
32 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord asked Balaam, “Why have you ·hit [struck] your donkey three times? I have stood here to ·stop [challenge] you, because what you are doing is wrong. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me three times [C it was more spiritually sensitive than Balaam]. If she had not turned away, I would have killed you by now, but I would have let her live.”
34 Then Balaam said to the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, “I have sinned; I did not know you were standing in the road to stop me. If I am wrong, I will go back.”
35 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s leaders.
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at Ar in Moab, which was beside the Arnon, at the edge of his ·country [boundary]. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “·I had asked you before [L Did I not send for you…?] to come quickly. Why didn’t you come to me? ·I am [L Am I not…?] able to ·reward you well [give you wealth].”
38 But Balaam answered, “I have come to you now, but I can’t say just anything. I can only say what God tells me to say.”
39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak offered cattle and sheep as a sacrifice and gave some meat to Balaam and the leaders with him.
41 The next morning Balak took Balaam to Bamoth Baal; from there he could see the edge of the ·Israelite camp [L people].
Balaam’s First Message
23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven ·male sheep [rams] for me.” 2 Balak did what Balaam asked, and they offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each of the altars.
3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] and I will go. If the Lord comes to me, I will tell you whatever he shows me.” Then Balaam went to a ·higher place [or barren height].
4 God came to Balaam there, and Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.”
5 The Lord ·told Balaam what he should say [L put a word in the mouth of Balaam]. Then the Lord said, “Go back to Balak and ·give him this message [L thus you will speak].”
6 So Balaam went back to Balak. Balak and all the leaders of Moab were still standing beside his burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] 7 when Balaam gave them this ·message [or oracle; or poem]:
“Balak brought me here from Aram;
the king of Moab brought me from the eastern mountains.
Balak said, ‘Come, put a curse on the people of Jacob for me.
Come, call down evil on the people of Israel.’
8 But ·God has not cursed them,
so I cannot curse them [L how can I curse what God has not cursed?].
·The Lord has not called down evil on them,
so I cannot call down evil on them [L How can I call down evil on/denounce what the Lord has not called down evil/denouced?].
9 I see them from the top of the ·mountains [cliffs];
I see them from the hills.
I see a people who live alone,
who think they are different from other nations [Ex. 19:5–6].
10 No one can number the ·many people [L dust; Gen. 13:16; 28:14] of Jacob,
and no one can count a ·fourth [or dust cloud] of Israel.
Let me die like ·good [virtuous; upright] people,
and let me end up like them!”
11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but you have only blessed them!”
12 But Balaam answered, “·I must [L Must I not…?] say what the Lord ·tells me to say [L put in my mouth].”
Balaam’s Second Message
13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place, where you can also see the people. But you can only see part of them, not all of them [C perhaps he could curse a part of Israel]. Curse them for me from there.” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the field of Zophim, on top of Mount Pisgah. There Balak built seven altars and offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.
15 So Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17], and I will meet with God over there.”
16 So the Lord came to Balaam and ·told him what to say [L put a word in his mouth]. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and say ·such and such [L thus].”
17 So Balaam went to Balak, where he and the leaders of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17]. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Then Balaam gave this ·message [or oracle; or poem]:
“Stand up, Balak, and listen.
Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a human being, and he will not lie.
He is not a human, and he does not change his mind.
What he says he will do, ·he does [L will he not do it?].
What he promises, ·he makes come true [L will he not fulfill it/make it come true?].
20 He ·told [commanded] me to bless them,
so I cannot change the blessing.
21 He ·has found [observes] no wrong in the people of Jacob;
he saw no ·fault [trouble] in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them,
and they praise their King.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
they are ·as strong as [L like the horns of] a wild ox.
23 No ·tricks [divination] will work on the people of Jacob,
and no magic will work against Israel.
People now say about ·them [L Jacob],
‘Look what God has done for Israel!’
24 The people rise up like a lioness;
they get up like a lion.
Lions don’t rest until they have eaten prey,
until they have drunk ·their enemies’ blood [L the blood of corpses].”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “You haven’t cursed these people, so at least don’t bless them!”
26 Balaam answered Balak, “·I told [L Did I not tell…?] you before that I can only do what the Lord tells me.”
Balaam’s Third Message
27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to another place. Maybe ·God will be pleased [L it will be right in the eyes/sight of God] to let you curse them from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, the mountain that looks over the ·desert [wasteland; or Jeshimon].
29 Balaam told Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me seven bulls and seven ·male sheep [rams].” 30 Balak did what Balaam asked, and he offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.
The Birth of John
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to give birth, she had a ·boy [L son]. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard how ·good [greatly merciful] the Lord was to her, and they rejoiced with her.
59 When the baby was eight days old, they came to circumcise him [Gen. 17:12]. They ·wanted [were about] to name him Zechariah because this was his father’s name, 60 but his mother said, “No! He will be named John.”
61 The people said to Elizabeth, “But no one in your family has this name.” 62 Then they made ·signs [gestures; motions] to his father to find out what he would like to name him [C indicating that Zechariah was not only mute but also deaf].
63 Zechariah ·asked [motioned] for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John,” and everyone ·was surprised [marveled; was amazed]. 64 Immediately ·Zechariah could talk again [L his mouth was opened and his tongue freed], and he began ·praising [blessing] God. 65 All their neighbors ·became alarmed [were afraid/in awe], and in all the ·mountains [hill country] of Judea people continued talking about all these things. 66 The people who heard about them ·wondered [L kept/pondered them in their hearts], saying, “What will this child [turn out to] be?” because the [L hand of the; C a metaphor for empowering presence] Lord was with him.
Zechariah Praises God
67 Then Zechariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
68 “·Let us praise [L Blessed be] the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has ·come to help his people and has given them freedom [L visited and accomplished redemption for his people].
69 He has ·given us a powerful Savior [L raised up a horn of salvation for us; C referring to the horn of a powerful animal—a metaphor for strength; 1 Sam. 2:1, 10; Ps. 132:17; Ezek. 29:21]
·from the family [L in the house] of God’s servant David.
70 [L …just as] He said that he would do this
through [L the mouth of] his holy prophets who lived long ago:
71 He promised he would save us from our enemies
and from the ·power [L hand; C indicating controlling power or oppression] of all those who hate us.
72 He said he would give mercy to our ·ancestors [forefathers]
and that he would remember his holy ·promise [covenant].
73 ·God promised [L The oath that he swore to] Abraham, our father [Gen. 22:16–18],
74 that he would ·save [rescue] us from the ·power [hand; v. 71] of our enemies
so we could serve him without fear,
75 being holy and ·good [righteous] before God as long as we live.
76 “Now you, child, will be called ·a [or the] prophet of the Most High God.
[L For] You will go before the Lord to prepare his ·way [or paths; Mal. 3:1].
77 You will ·make his people know that they will be saved [L give his people the knowledge of salvation]
by having their sins forgiven [Jer. 31:34].
78 ·With [or Because of] the ·loving [tender] mercy of our God,
·a new day from heaven will dawn upon us [L the sunrise/dawn from heaven will visit us; C a metaphor for the Messiah; Mal. 4:2].
79 It will shine on those who ·live [dwell; sit] in darkness,
in the shadow of death [Is. 9:2].
It will guide ·us [L our feet] into the path of peace [Is. 59:8].”
80 And so the child grew up and became strong ·in spirit [or in the Spirit]. John lived in the ·desert [wilderness] until the time when he ·came out to preach [appeared; was revealed] to Israel.
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A miktam [C perhaps “inscription”] of David.
58 Do you ·rulers [or silent ones; or gods; C sometimes spiritual beings such as angels are called “gods” in the OT; 82:1] really say what is ·right [righteous]?
Do you judge people ·fairly [with integrity]?
2 No, in your heart you plan evil;
you ·think up [dispense] ·violent crimes [violence] in the land.
3 From ·birth [L the womb], evil people ·turn away [go astray] from God;
they wander off and tell lies ·as soon as they are born [L from the belly; C another word for the womb; 51:5].
4 They ·are [L have poison/venom] like ·poisonous [venomous] snakes,
like deaf cobras that ·stop [plug] up their ears
5 so they cannot hear the music of the snake charmer
no matter how ·well he plays [wisely/skillfully he enchants].
6 God, break the teeth in their mouths!
·Tear out [Uproot] the fangs of those lions, Lord!
7 Let them ·disappear [vanish] like water that flows away.
Let them ·be cut short like a broken arrow [L draw their arrows like they are cut off].
8 Let them be like ·snails [slugs] that ·melt [dissolve] as they move [C snails leave a slime as they move].
Let them be like a ·child born dead [stillborn] who never saw the sun.
9 His anger will blow them away alive
faster than burning thorns can heat a pot [C likely a reference to quick retribution].
10 ·Good [Righteous] people will be glad when they see ·him get even [vengeance].
They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked [Is. 63:1–6; Rev. 14:19–20; 19:13–14].
11 Then people will say,
“There really are ·rewards [fruits] for ·doing what is right [the righteous].
There really is a God who judges the ·world [earth; land].”
12 People ·without good sense [who lack sense/heart] ·find fault with [despise; belittle] their neighbors,
but those with understanding keep quiet.
13 Gossips ·can’t keep [L go/walk around revealing] secrets,
but a trustworthy person ·can [keeps a confidence; L covers up a word].